The US' immigration agency has said that it would rescind a 2018 Trump-era policy that allowed immigration officers to reject H-1B visa applications instead of first issuing a notice of intent to deny to the applicants, a decision which will reduce barriers to "legal immigration" and would be a positive step for Indian professionals. The H-1B visa, popular among Indian IT companies and professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
In 2018, The Trump administration gave its immigration officials more power to reject H-1B visa applications outright. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said in a statement on Wednesday that it was updating its policies around expedited processing of applications, changing the guidance around Requests for Evidence (RFEs) and Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs), and increasing the validity period for certain Employment Authorisation Documents (EADs).
The USCIS is returning to the adjudicative principles of a June 2013 memo that instructed agency officers to issue a request for evidence or notice of intent to deny when additional evidence could potentially demonstrate eligibility for an immigration benefit, the immigration agency said in a statement on Wednesday. As part of the updated RFE and NOID policy, the USCIS is rescinding a July 2018 memo that permitted agency officers to deny certain immigration benefit requests instead of first issuing an RFE or NOID, it said.
This updated policy will ensure those benefit requestors are given an opportunity to correct innocent mistakes and unintentional omissions. In general, a USCIS officer will issue an RFE or NOID when the officer determines additional information or explanation that may potentially establish eligibility for an immigration benefit. We are taking action to eliminate policies that fail to promote access to the legal immigration system and will continue to make improvements that help individuals navigate the path to citizenship, and that modernise our immigration system, said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
These policy measures are consistent with the Biden-Harris administration's priorities to eliminate unnecessary barriers to our nation's legal immigration system and reduce burdens on non-citizens who may be eligible for immigration benefits, said Acting USCIS Director Tracy Renaud. USCIS is committed to promoting policies and procedures that ensure we operate in a fair, efficient, and humane manner that reflects America's heritage as a land of opportunity for those who seek it.
According to the 2018 policy, the USCIS adjudicators had full discretion to deny applications, petitions, and requests without first issuing an RFE or NOID, when required initial evidence is not submitted or the evidence of record fails to establish eligibility. The USCIS also said that they will increase the current one-year validity period on both initial and renewal EADs to two years for certain adjustment of status applicants. Increasing the validity period on EADs for certain adjustment applicants is expected to reduce the number of employment authorisation requests USCIS receives and allow the agency to shift limited resources to other priority areas.